Emergency Furlough Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Like many institutions across the country, COVID-19 has had a major impact on the State of Kansas and its institutions of higher education. Kansas State University is working diligently to ensure the continuation of essential functions and operations.
Human Capital Services provides guidance below for some of the most common emergency furlough questions that employees may have during this time. Please continue to check back often as new FAQs will be added as needed. New FAQs can be found at the bottom of the page beginning with FAQ #39. Revised June 12, 2020
A furlough is the placement of an employee in a temporary non-duty, non-pay status because of lack of work or funds, or other non-disciplinary reasons. It is a mandatory leave without pay status for a preset number of hours during each pay period covered by the furlough.
An emergency furlough occurs if there is an immediate or imminent lack of funding to continue operations or any emergency that results in an unanticipated interruption of funding.
A furlough of employees allows the university to preserve the fiscal stability of the university while also preserving employment, as much as possible, for our employees. At this time, furloughs are due specifically to the direct impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on revenue and the limited operations that create conditions where there may be no work available for some employees to perform.
Employees who work in areas where there is either reduced revenue and/or work may be furloughed. You will be notified by your department and HCS if you are being furloughed. Notification will be sent via email and letter to impacted employees.
HCS will work with departments to develop a communication plan for notifying employees appropriately. Employees may be notified at different times depending on where the department is with their plan to address the budget. HCS is glad to partner with departments to discuss.
An emergency furlough does not require notification due to an unanticipated interruption of funding.
No, there is no exception to this. An employee who received furlough notification cannot work whether salaried or hourly during the furlough period timeframe. In addition, a furloughed employee cannot volunteer to work for the university during the furlough period. If your hours have been reduced, you should only work during the approved period of time.
There is no distinction between positions held by bargaining unit employees and non-bargaining unit employees in the event of an emergency furlough due to a lapse of funding.
Your department will contact you with a notification of a return date.
If it is determined your position is needed before the furlough ends, you will need to report to work when requested. Your department will make contact with you when you are to report to work.
Yes, as long as it complies with existing ethics and other requirements for outside employment. While on furlough, the employee remains an employee of K-State and therefore is expected to report to work when requested. Before accepting outside employment, if not choosing to resign, you should consult with your immediate supervisor. See University Handbook Appendix S.
You may be eligible for unemployment benefits during this time. Human Capital Services will submit notification of furlough to the Kansas Department of Labor unemployment center. It is your responsibility to file weekly claims and be aware of all eligibility and reporting requirements in order to receive payment. If you are denied unemployment benefits, you should contact the Kansas Department of Labor unemployment center at 800-292-6333 or at https://www.getkansasbenefits.gov/Contact.aspx.
Yes, the employee is responsible to file weekly claims and be aware of all eligibility and reporting requirements in order to receive payment. HCS is submitting the furlough information to the Kansas Department of Labor with the intent to make this process easier. If you are not an existing Kansas Unemployment Benefits user, you will need to register for an account at https://www.getkansasbenefits.gov/Account/Login.aspx.
You may be eligible for partial unemployment benefits while you are still working, if your hours or pay have been reduced or if you are unable to work because you have been put into mandatory quarantine during the coronavirus outbreak. The unemployment office will consider part-time employment in your work history when figuring your benefits.
A furlough is mandatory leave without pay. Employees who are furloughed 100% cannot use accrued or earned leave. If you were approved for paid time off during your furlough, that request will be canceled.
Employees who are partially furloughed (i.e. 20%, 50%, etc.) may use accrued or earned leave in exchange for hours they would normally work during their adjusted furloughed schedule. Please see the example provided below for guidance.
Example: A full-time employee is furloughed 20%. Their adjusted work week is 32 hours regular, 8 hours furlough. If the employee takes a sick day during the week, they would report their time as follows:
24 Hours Regular
8 Hours Sick
8 Hours Furlough
No, a furlough is mandatory leave without pay. Therefore, employees cannot use accrued or earned leave. If you were approved for paid time off during your furlough, that request will be canceled.
An employee’s accrual of sick and vacation leave will be unaffected by a furlough. You will continue to accrue the amount of sick and vacation leave you would have accrued had the furlough not occurred.
ADDITION: The vacation leave maximum accrual is 304 hours. This is a Kansas Board of Regents policy and maximums will not be increased.
Furloughed employees will not receive pay for a holiday that occurs during this time.
The furlough will not affect your continuous service. You will retain your seniority and your continuous service, length of service, and anniversary date.
Employees who are off work due to qualifying FMLA circumstances may be subject to the furlough. Any paid time off must be canceled and the employee will be placed in furlough status. Any days of scheduled FMLA leave are documented as furlough days and leave without pay. No days associated with the furlough period will be counted against the employee’s 12-week FMLA leave entitlement.
Employees who are off work due to Shared Leave may be subject to the furlough and documented as leave without pay.
No, you are not entitled to take paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave if you have been furloughed. However, you may be eligible for unemployment insurance benefits. Human Capital Services will submit notification to the Kansas Department of Labor unemployment center. Therefore, you will not be required to individually apply for unemployment benefits during the furlough notification. If you are denied unemployment benefits, you should contact the Kansas Department of Labor unemployment center at 800-292-6333 or at https://www.getkansasbenefits.gov/Contact.aspx.
The furlough will not affect your continuous service. You will retain your seniority and your continuous service, length of service, anniversary date. See FAQ item #34 below regarding KPERS service credit.
STATE EMPLOYEE HEALTH PLAN (SEHP) BENEFITS
For the duration of the furlough, active employee health insurance continues at the regular employee rate. This is the premium that is normally deducted from the paycheck (employee portion of total premium). If you don't have a paycheck that is large enough, or a paycheck at all, your health insurance premiums will be owed when you return from furlough. The back premium will be deducted from your paycheck once you return from furlough. It may be several pay periods before the adjustment is processed. Please be aware the accumulated premium amount, for a one-time adjustment, could be large. If your employment ends while on a furlough, your health insurance premiums owed may be taken from your leave payout.
If you don’t have a paycheck that is large enough, or a paycheck at all, your employee health insurance premiums will accumulate at the State Employee Health Plan (SEHP) until you have a paycheck to collect premiums. If the accumulated premium amount is large, it may take several paychecks to collect the back owed premiums. If the furlough is more than 30 days, and you would like to retain State Employee Health Plan coverage, you will have the opportunity to go on to the COBRA (https://www.kdheks.gov/hcf/sehp/COBRA-2020Book.htm) or SEHP direct bill plan (https://www.kdheks.gov/hcf/sehp/DB-2020Book.htm). You will get a notification of this election opportunity through regular mail and/or email. If you resign or retire from your position while on a furlough, your health insurance premiums owed may be taken from your leave payout.
You may change your HSA contribution at any time throughout the year. You’ll find the tutorial to do this at: https://www.k-state.edu/hcs/benefits/health/MAP-tutorials/1BenefitsMapsTutorial_make-hsa-change-and-calculation-instructions.pdf
Unless you have an IRS qualified mid-year change, you will not be able to change the amount for your FSA health account.
If you are in a situation in which your child is not attending daycare, because you are home, you may reduce or cancel your flexible spending dependent care account. To do this, follow the MAP tutorial found at: https://www.k-state.edu/hcs/benefits/health/MAP-tutorials/BenefitsMapsTutorial_make-midyear-change.pdf Select "Communication form" . Indicate that you are not working due to the current COVID-19 situation. FSA eligible expenses can be found on the NueSynergy Website at https://stateofkansas.wealthcareportal.com/Page/HraResources.
If you don’t have a check that is large enough, or a check at all, your premiums will accumulate at the State Employee Health Plan (SEHP) until you have a check to collect premiums. If the accumulated premium is large, it may take several paychecks to collect the back owed premiums. If the furlough is more than 30 days, you will have the opportunity to go through direct bill with MET. If you resign or retire from your position while on a furlough, your MET premiums owed may be taken from your leave payout.
LIFE INSURANCE (BASIC AND OPTIONAL)
Your basic coverage will continue to be paid by K-State for up to 12 months.
If you have the optional coverage, you may pay directly to the Standard for optional coverage for a maximum of 12 months. For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org
You may pay directly to The Hartford to continue your optional plans. For more information, contact email@example.com
KBOR RETIREMENT PLAN(S)
If you are not receiving a paycheck due to furlough, there will be no contributions to your KBOR Retirement Plan. This includes employee and employer contributions.
A furlough will not affect vesting as participants in the KBOR Retirement Plan(s) are immediately 100% vested upon starting employment.
A furlough is not a distributable event to access KBOR retirement funds. You may be able to take age-based withdrawals from your optional savings plans. There may also be loan or hardship withdrawal options. Speak to your investment provider for more information.
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act loosens restrictions on accessing retirement funds for employees impacted by COVID-19 and provides options to consider as you navigate financial decisions in the coming months. Kansas Board of Regents Retirement Plan Committee has made changes to the Mandatory and/or Voluntary 403(b) Retirement Plans as a result of this act. Please see further information on the Kansas Board of Regents website, https://www.kansasregents.org/resources/PDF/About/Retirement/042220_CARES_Act_letter_to_Plan_Particiants_FINAL_rb.pdf.
Yes, if you are eligible for retirement. Employees who retire between ages of 55-59 must have ten years of service in a benefits-eligible position at a KBOR institution or with the KBOR office. There is no minimum service requirement at age 60 or older. The retiree works directly with the retirement plan provider to explore retirement income distribution options.
KPERS RETIREMENT PLAN
If you are not receiving a paycheck due to furlough, there will be no contributions to your KPERS retirement account. This includes employee and employer contributions.
The furlough will not affect your KPERS service credit. KPERS has determined that furloughs related to the COVID-19 pandemic will not impact KPERS service credit.
During a furlough you will not be in pay status and you will not earn KPERS service credit for the days you are on furlough. KPERS service credit is earned by quarters. If you are in pay status for at least one day during the quarter you will earn service credit for the entire quarter, even if you are not in pay status for a portion of the quarter. Questions about KPERS service quarters should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
No, you may not withdraw contributions from your KPERS account during a furlough.
Yes, if you are otherwise eligible for KPERS retirement and separate from service.
Yes, employees have access to the EAP counselors who are available 24/7 at 1-888-275-1205 (option 1) to provide immediate care, concern, and assistance. TDD/TT 800-697-0353.
Employees also have access to the GuidanceResources® Online. This resource gives you access to timely, expert information on thousands of topics, including, but not limited to wellness, financial planners as well as self-assessments and more at http://guidanceresources.com.
If you are eligible, you will receive your longevity bonus pay as scheduled.
You will have to report all wages received. The Unemployment Center with the Kansas Department of Labor will determine if or how unemployment benefits may be impacted.
The decision to restrict leave for non-furloughed employees has been reversed. Effective immediately (June 10) there are no restrictions on paid leave usage for non-furloughed employees.
Any non-furloughed employee, including supervisors, within the furloughed unit cannot take paid leave while the emergency furlough is in effect. Any leave requested will be automatically converted to furlough leave without pay. Non-furloughed employees are permitted to take paid leave only in the three following circumstances: Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). Paid leave under the FFCRA is protected leave and this time must be approved if the employee is eligible and qualifies. Therefore if a non-furloughed employee requests and is eligible for federally granted FFCRA leave, or a partial furloughed employee requests FFCRA leave to the extent of their non-furloughed worktime, this time will be approved. Paid Parental Leave. The Kansas Board of Regents (KBOR) policy mandates paid parental leave, which is available to an employee only within a finite time. This policy requires that the University provide it to non-furloughed employees. This leave does not accrue, and supervisors have no discretion about whether to grant the leave if an employee elects to take it. Accordingly, this leave may be taken during the furlough period. Employee Relief. Working employees may need some relief over the coming months in order to preserve morale. To balance this need, while not opening the door to incurring significant extra costs associated with an extended leave situation, working employees in furloughed units are allowed take up to three days of paid leave during the furlough period (vacation, sick, bereavement or other leave). After the three days are exhausted, any additional leave would automatically be without pay.
No. Kansas State University completed the application portion on your behalf by filing a spreadsheet, which serves as your application. Please do not file an application because K-State already did this portion and if you do, it will result in a delay in benefits. However, you do still need to create an account (which is a different process from an application) and submit a weekly claim. Currently, the link for creating an account can be found at www.getkansasbenefits.gov/Account/Login/aspx#. Visit the KDOL's Weekly Claim FAQ on their website at www.getkansasbenefits.gov for step-by-step instructions. Please reference "My Employer Filed My Claim for Benefits by Spreadsheet: What Do I Do Next?" (pdf) flyer.
You will need to file a weekly claim each week you are unemployed. To file your weekly claim, visit www.GetKansasBenefits.gov or call 1-(800)-292-6333. Please note: You may experience delays when filing your claims because the heavy load placed upon it by enormous claims volumes.
The spreadsheet is the initial filing for unemployment insurance benefits. Each individual employee or claimant is responsible for filing their own weekly claims honestly and accurately. If a weekly claim is not filed, it cannot be paid.
Unemployment Claim Steps
1. Human Capital Services will file your application for unemployment benefits on your behalf. You should not file your own application for benefits as this will delay payment.
2. If you have never had unemployment account in Kansas, you will have to create an account. Currently, the link for creating an account can be found at www.getkansasbenefits.gov/Account/Login/aspx#.
3. KDOL will also use your personal information to verify your identity with the Social Security Administration – this is a requirement under Kansas and Federal law.
4. If this is a new claim, you will be mailed a monetary determination. The Monetary determination will explain what you are entitled to on a weekly basis and will provide your total benefit amount. If this is an additional claim, you will not receive a new monetary determination. An additional claim is another claim filed within the same benefit year. Through your user account, you can check your weekly amount and the balance of your unemployment claim.
If you were scheduled to work on the holiday, you will be paid for the amount of time that you were scheduled to work. If you were not scheduled to work on the holiday, then you would claim this as unemployment. If you have questions about your scheduled hours, please contact your supervisor.